Minecraft, Day Z represent the “promise” of games, say Schafer, Wolpaw

Tuesday, 4th September 2012 07:35 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Respected writers Tim Schafer and Erik Wolpaw told PAX Prime 2012 audiences that games which favour player agency over directed narrative may be the future of the entire medium.

As reported by Kotaku, Portal 2 writer Wolpaw joked that he might quit his writing job over the phenomenal success of sandbox games like Minecraft and Day Z.

“Can you have an authored story in that situation? It gets tough. I look at stories coming out of Minecraft or something like DayZ, and honestly it makes me just despair,” he said.

“If I had any guts or honor, I’d leave the industry. It seems like it’s the promise of games. It’s like, ‘I have full agency. Total, total agency.’”

After assuring the room that he was kidding, Wolpaw said there will always be a place for narrative-driven games, but it won’t be as central as it is now and was in the past.

“At some point, you’re going to go into the kinda ‘artisan cheese-maker’ model. Like Tim [Schafer]. You’re going to be making these games that directly appeal to a [specific audience]. It may not be one of these 20 million dollar massive productions,” he explained.

Double Fine boss and Psychonauts writer Schafer seemed to agree.

“I think [that kind of player-driven experience] is maybe the promise of games. But not everybody wants the same thing from games. There are definitely people who like something carefully crafted for them, cheese or games,” he said.

Minecraft has no story and no definite goals, and has sold over 7 million copies on PC and 3.6 million copies on Xbox 360. Day Z takes a similar approach, throwing players down with hazards and tools and letting them fool around; it has over 1 million registered players and is on its way to commercial release.




    I think narrative driven games are for people with little to no imagination. People who need to be led by the hand and immersed in a story that they have no control over.

    Obviously, there are loads of these people around. Im not necessarily saying that not being able to use your imagination to craft your own experiences is a bad thing, but I don’t think that they they are even able to change.

    There are simply different types of gamers. Some who never or very rarely play SP campaigns. They love MP and/or open worlds, and find scripted AI incredibly mundane compared to interacting with real people.

    Then there are those who need to be entertained by something that doesn’t involve other people reminding them of the real world.

    So basically, I think that player driven and narrative driven experiences never need to worry about intruding on each other’s space.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. ArithonUK

    I cannot speak for DayZ, but MineCraft is EVERYTHING that PC gaming used to represent. Creativity, imagination, MODDING!!!, flexibility, value for money, etc. – all possible because they were not carrying a distributor on their backs – how can 39 million subscribers be wrong?

    A story is good – look at Half-Life (A quake 1 mod after all), but a script-fest blind-alley interactive cut-scene is NOTHING we want. Maybe *some* console players do, but I would give them more credit than that.

    You can have a story without being on rails. Try it.

    You can also have a game with mod-support and NO paid DLC and still be wildly successful. Try that too.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. TheBlackHole

    “I think narrative driven games are for people with little to no imagination”

    That is so much horseshit.

    I don’t read books because I have no imagination, I just appreciate good storytelling. Same goes for games.

    I love games that allow me to make my own story, but I equally appreciate a game that can tell its own tale, but allows me to participate in that journey.

    If you genuinely believe that people who like story-driven/non story-driven games are two distinct types of gamer, then I think that says more about your own inability to appreciate both forms of entertainment, rather than an accurate representation of gamer preferences.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Da Man

    When you read a book, you ‘re using your imagination. When you control a pre defined 3d model and are being fed with images from a display, you use no imagination.

    Not realizing that is what leads to ‘horseshit’ being posted.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. TheBlackHole


    That’s because you seem to think that if you already have a 3d model and an environment to walk around, you no longer have a use for your imagination.

    Also, he’s talking about the narrative – ALL games have a character model and a game world, but he’s not suggesting all gamers have no imagination, just those who play games with a narrative. Get it?

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Da Man

    I don’t have to think that, that’s the way it is. You don’t use imagination, you make up shizophrenical interpretations of an already existing feed.

    Besides, he’s right, you do have to be creative to play a sandbox videogame, otherwise it just gets boring. That’s what he meant, obv. Get it?

    #6 2 years ago
  7. TheBlackHole

    Do you read?

    Of course you have to be creative to play a sandbox game. Where did I disagree with that?

    I took issue with his suggestion that if you enjoy narrative driven games you obviously have no imagination, which (and I’ll state again) is utter horseshit.

    End of.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Da Man

    You have to be creative and use your imagination to mess around the sandbox. On the other hand, you have to have zero imagination to go through levels with enemies popping out or mash buttons to find your son in an image feed.

    Your knee jerk attempt at an analogy with books is horseshit.

    #8 2 years ago

    “I took issue with his suggestion that if you enjoy narrative driven games you obviously have no imagination, blah, blah, blah…”

    Quote me where I used the word “enjoy”.

    More specifically, exactly where did I say that only people with no imagination can “enjoy” these sort of games?

    #9 2 years ago
  10. DSB

    Everybody. Loves. A. Sandbox.

    #10 2 years ago

    Thought not.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. TheBlackHole


    I was paraphrasing. Well done for being a smartass though – we all love those.

    “I think narrative driven games are for people with little to no imagination.”

    The insinuation is clear ebough. Whether it was intentional is a different matter.

    #12 2 years ago

    “Whether it was intentional”!?

    You mean whether you jumped to conclusions, misunderstood me and then twisted my words or not, more like?

    “I think health spas are for people who like to relax.”

    “I think adventure holidays are for people who need an adrenaline rush every now and then.”

    Does that mean that one group can’t “enjoy” the other?


    Learn to read what’s actaully written.

    End of.

    #13 2 years ago

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